Now that spring is officially upon us, it’s time to emerge from hibernation mode, shake off the winter doldrums and try something new. Whether you’re looking to unleash your creativity, spend more time outside, or simply enjoy a new pastime with friends, here are five hobby suggestions to spark your interest and get you thinking about new activities to explore.

1. Be a Birder

Considered one of the fastest-growing hobbies in North America, birdwatching—or birding—is a fun and inexpensive way to get outside and appreciate your natural surroundings. There’s something both serene and satisfying about taking the time to observe, identify and record the birds you see, whether you’re in your own backyard, in a nearby park or even at a wildlife refuge. Another birding plus? There’s not a lot of gear required. Experts suggest a sturdy set of binoculars and a good field guide, but for the newbies out there, all you really need to get started is a weather-proof notebook and an easy-to-use birding app (there are plenty of birding apps to choose from).

While it’s definitely a year-round hobby, birding around Calgary and Airdrie is especially exciting this time of year because we’re in the middle of spring migration season, when a variety of different bird species—from waterfowl to warblers—fly back north after spending the winter in warmer climates.

Where to go birding: In southern Alberta, we’re blessed with a wide variety of bird habitats, from wetlands and grasslands to forests, foothills and more. Naturally, this means you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding places to go birding, but a few spots worth singling out (because they’re near Genesis Land communities) include the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Nose Hill Park and Big Hill Springs Provincial Park.

2. Play Pickleball

Pickleball has taken North America by storm over the last few years. In Canada alone, it’s estimated that more than 1.37 million people now play this ultra-popular racket sport. And, according to the Calgary Pickleball Club, Alberta has the highest number of registered players in the country!

So, what is it about pickleball that makes it so enticing? Combining elements of tennis, badminton and Ping Pong, this sport is low-impact, accessible and pretty easy to learn, making it a laidback way to get some exercise while socializing—doubles leagues are especially fun for couples, friends and family looking for an activity to enjoy together. Check out the full rules of pickleball here.

Where to play pickleball: There are a variety of indoor and outdoor pickleball courts in Calgary and Airdrie, but two of the largest and newest facilities are The Calgary Pickleball Center and YYC Pickleball, both located in northeast Calgary.

3. Make Your Own Wine

There’s something immensely satisfying about completing a do-it-yourself (DIY) project—especially when the end result can be shared with, and enjoyed by, others. If you’re someone who really appreciates a nice glass of wine, crafting your own homemade vino may be the perfect DIY hobby to try.

An engaging combination of artistry, science and patience, winemaking, a.k.a. vinification, is a rewarding pastime that gets more fun and interesting with each batch you produce. From fermentation to aging, the process can take anywhere between one month and a year, depending on the type of fruit you’re working with. But when you uncork a bottle of your own homemade creation, you’ll likely feel it was well worth the wait.

Where to get started: Winemaking at home requires some specific but relatively inexpensive equipment, including fermenters, airlocks and siphoning tools, as well as bottles, corks and labels. Of course, you’ll also need the right ingredients, which include fruit bases, yeasts, oak products and more. Luckily, local winemaking stores, including The Water Store in Airdrie and The Wine Warehouse in Calgary, sell winemaking kits that bring these necessities together into one package. The Wine Warehouse also offers to ferment and age your wine right on-site at the store if you’re looking to save space and worktime.

4. Cultivate a Green Thumb

Gardening can be a productive and satisfying way to get outside and connect with nature. Whether you have a large backyard or just a few select spaces for small containers or raised beds, growing your own veggies, herbs and flowers can inspire a deep sense of accomplishment while also encouraging a healthier, more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Of course, gardening in Southern Alberta comes with a unique set of challenges, including a short growing season, some very chilly nights and the occasional hailstorm. But the good news is, growers in our neck of the woods are still able to yield a variety of crops—from nutritious carrots, lettuces and squashes to flowering plants like daisies, hydrangeas, snapdragons and many more.

Where to get growing advice: One of the wonderful things about gardening is the supportive community of gardeners out there who are ready to share their growing tips or even lend a hand with planting. Both Calgary and Airdrie have very active horticultural societies that offer workshops, advice and even community gardening opportunities.

5. Get into Upcycling

If you’re looking for a creative pursuit that also happens to be budget-friendly and good for the environment, upcycling may be the perfect hobby for you. Upcycling is the process of repurposing old or discarded items into new, useful products of higher quality or value.

One of the great things about this hobby is that the list of things you can repurpose and reuse is pretty much endless, from old clothing and jewellery to mason jars, wine bottles, furniture pieces and more. Plus, upcycling lets you create things that are truly one of a kind; you can put your own personal stamp on the things you own or the gifts you give.

Where to get started: The easiest place to get started with upcycling is in your own home. Just wander through your house, find something you no longer want or need, and then try repurposing it into something you’ll actually use. For example, you could turn a rickety old ladder into a hanging rack for blankets or refashion an old pair of jeans into a cute tote bag. Once you’ve gotten the hang of upcycling, consider checking out Facebook marketplace or visiting nearby thrift stores, estate sales and garage sales to search for other used items to repurpose.